Chicago Ridge debates awarding video gaming license to proposed wine shop

  • Written by By Dermot Connolly

A long-vacant storefront on Ridgeland Avenue in Chicago Ridge will soon be home to a wine shop, after the Chicago Ridge Village Board hashed out the pros and cons of awarding the liquor and video gaming licenses requested for the business.

By a vote of 3-2, the trustees at the Tuesday meeting agreed to approve the licenses, clearing the way for the business, to be called Wine Time, to open at 10729 S. Ridgeland Ave. But after hearing the plans laid out by business operator Malin Cremeens during the committee meeting, Mayor Chuck Tokar and the trustees engaged in a spirited discussion of the issues involved. Until a separate vote was taken at the end of the night, it was not at all clear how the voting would go. Trustee Frances Coglianese was absent.

The site of the new business is the former Hollywood Video store. Cremeens said the space will now be completely redesigned over the next few months before the business is ready to open. She said the business will feature wines made in the Midwest, and beer and wine will be sold by the glass.

“If people like a wine they try, we want them to be able to buy a bottle of it to take home,” she said, explaining why she was also seeking a license to sell packaged liquors. But it was her request for a video gaming license that would allow five video gaming machines to go into the business that a few trustees raised the most questions about.

The same issues have scuttled plans to open video gaming parlors in the same spot over the past year, with some trustees raising concerns about the site being a block away from Our Lady of the Ridge School and Church, at 10801 S. Ridgeland.

“How long are we going to look at a vacant store that is a blight (on the community)?,” Tokar. “We need the economic development. If she doesn’t get permission to open here, she will just go to a neighboring community and they will get the revenue.”

Two other vacant businesses, a former music store and pizzeria, are located beside the site Wine Time will be fixing up, and the mayor said this might spur further development.

“If economic development happens there, it increases the chances of other businesses moving in beside it. We might have a good strip mall there again,” he said.

“My position remains the same,” said Trustee Bruce Quintos, asserting his opposition due to a lack of parking and the close proximity to the church and school.

Trustee Sally Durkin agreed, casting the second vote against the licenses, saying she had turned down other businesses for the same site for the same reasons.

However, Tokar pointed out that there is sufficient street parking available on Ridgeland in front of the store. The two anchors on the block, Jack & Pat’s grocery store at 10717 S. Ridgeland and Glenn Marker American Legion Post 1160, at 10739 S. Ridgeland, have their own parking lots.

Cremeens said she would agree not to open until 1 p.m. on Sundays, to avoid conflict with church services.

Trustee Jack Lind noted that video gaming is already available in the American Legion hall, which is actually closer to Our Lady of the Ridge.

“This is a good business,” said Lind. “When Hollywood Video was there, they carried X-rated videos,” he pointed out.

Lind and trustees William McFarland and Amanda Cardin voted to approve the licenses. Cardin acknowledged that she has always been a vocal opponent of increasing video gaming licenses in the village.

But Cardin brought it to the attention of the board that technically any existing business with a liquor license can receive a gaming license from the Illinois Gaming Commission.

“I’d rather she come to us first, but it really is out of our hands,” she said.

After Attorney Michael Stillman, who was filling in for Burt Odelson, agreed with her assessment, the board agreed to look into the larger issue at a later date.